Tag Archive: pinoy


Favorite Filipino Films from the 80’s

As I was ending one of my classes in Humanities I (Art Appreciation), I had a rather spirited conversation with some of my students regarding local films, particularly of the 80’s. Of course, this decade was embraced by a dose of really monumental works from the country’s acclaimed filmmakers. Yet, this was also a time of severe commercialism in film, so much so that in 1987, a notable group of film critics refused to give out the usual yearly citations and recognitions for the simple reason that there were no deserving nominees, much more winners.

Back to my class. I ended up recommending a few films from the 80’s to some students who looked really interested. Though I may not be as helpful in looking for the actual copies of these films, I believe that somehow, I was able to enhance their knowledge on Philippine Cinema especially its rich and checkered history. These kids practically grew up in a national cinema that featured dizzying close ups of matinee idols and Fil Ams who probably know nothing but wooden acting. Thank heavens for the indie revolution!

Let me share my personal list of notable films from the 80’s, and just a few reasons why I particularly liked each film.

1. Bona by Lino Brocka – This film is just shimmering with raw humanity. Actress Nora Aunor reveals yet another layer of her acting chops in this film about a slum girl who is obsessed with a movie bit player. Despite numerous technical flaws, the film features topnatch acting and restrained melodrama from the country’s most prominent director.

2. Manila by Night by Ishamel Bernal – This cyclical film from Ishmael Bernal features a cast of sleezy and weird characters from Manila’s underbelly. A film devoid of hope and clean cut morality, it is very interesting how the city of Manila becomes a character in itself, as it seduces, traps, confronts, and eats its own children. While the sex scenes can still be shortened, the real gift of this film is its director, who also happens to be the film’s writer. Bernal here dramatizes his personal tribute to a city so beautiful yet so horribe at the same time.

3. Kisapmata (In The Blink of An Eye) by Mike de Leon – This political film is probably Mike de Leon’s best. He gets everything right in this film – the mood, the acting, the cinematography, the music, everything! This shocking film is probably one of my favorites. It’s just timeless!

4. Salome by Laurice Guillen- The Filipino version of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, the film features a career crowning performance from Gina Alajar and a thespic zenith for its director. The film focuses on the subjectivity of truth, as a housewife is tried for the murder of a cityboy. Issues of rape,adultery,unfaithfulness all come to play in a town plagued by gossip mongers. Watch out for the ending as it truly is poetic and unforgettable.

5. Batch ’81 by Mike de Leon – Another political film from Mike de Leon. It uses the college fraternity as a microcosm of a society suffering under a fascist regime, where acts of violence and inhumanity are disguised amid the lofty ideals of order, unity, and brotherhoood. The fight scenes in this film are just unforgettable, not to mention the highly symbolic production numbers from the three fraternities towards the final third of the film.

6. Himala (Miracle) by ishmael Bernal – This rather philosophical film focuses on religion as the new opiate of the masses. It tells the story of how a woman manages to fool an entire provincial village plagued by drought on how the Virgin Mary appeared to her. Actress Nora Aunor is again at the top of her game and she is backed by an equally spectacular supporting cast. It is also impressive how Bernal uses the location to effectively communicate and enrich the audience’s viewing experience. Though slow and dead-serious in many parts, the film is truly one of Philippine Cinema’s best.

7. Oro, Plata, Mata by Peque Gallaga – This epic film tells the story of two families and how the Japanese occupation left scathing wounds of war and psychological turmoil in their lives. The production design in this film is just superb. Jose Javier Reyes’ screenplay is also keenly observant. Truly, all of Gallaga’s succeeding works seemed inferior to this masterpiece.

8. ‘Merika by Gil Portes – This melancholic film is truly one from the heart. It is an early indictment of the American Dream and how it has affected the lives of Filipinos who have dreamt all their lives to reach the United States. This quiet but moving film is gifted with notable performances from Nora Aunor as the lonely nurse and Bembol Roco as her opportunistic suitor. The cinematography and production design are also commendable. The music underscores feelings of loneliness, nostalgia,and  desperation.

9. Paradise Inn by Celso Ad Castillo – This film is another production that mirrors the nation’s sociopolitical climate during the turbulent 80’s. Despite lopsided scripting and overscoring, the film manages to succeed thanks to memorable performances from Lolita Rodriguez and Vivian Velez, who play mother and daughter who are managing a sleezy bar cum brothel in the midst of a politically charged provincial town. This film uses subtle yet powerful images that call for revolution against a repressive regime. This film came out in December of 1985 — 2 months before the EDSA Revolution that toppled the dictatorship.

10. Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (Lend Me One Morning) by ishmael Bernal – A tearjerker through and through, this melodrama, thankfully, is not devoid of great acting from Vilma Santos, who plays a dying working mom trying to make sense of her life that is about to come to an end. Apart from Santos’ noteworthy performance, the film also features powerful images of life and death, body and would-be-spirit, while at the same time channeling the commercialist workings of melodramas in the Philippines.

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Here is another interesting article for The Brown Raise Movement. This was written by Leon Ma. Guererro – a hostorian and biographer. Hope you find this educational and at the same time, enlightening.

Rizal was the first Filipino. Before him were the natives of Suluan who rowed out to Magellan’s camp on “The Enchanted Island” of Humunu.

They happily gave Magellan coconuts, oranges, bananas, rice, a jar of palm wine, a fish and a cock, in exchange for mirrors, bells and red caps—a buffoon’s very apparel.

There was Humabon, the kinglet of Sulu, a short, fat tattooed man, who began by requiring Magellan to pay tribute (which not four days before a junk from Siam had done for the privilege of buying gold and slaves) and ended up by agreeing to give the Spanish sole trading rights, scared out his wits by a man dressed head to foot by an armor, lured by the assurance that if he was baptized he would never again be haunted by demons.

But there was Lapu-lapu, kinglet of Mactan, as bold and handsome and supple as the fish for which he was named, who thought himself, “as good man” as Humabon and would not pay tribute to the “Christian king.” 

There was also Suleyman, one of the two rajahs of Manila, required to surrender to Legazpi’s emissary, de Goiti, he replied that his men were far from being tattooed savages.
But the strategy of the conquest and the long Spanish dominion has been proved:
Humabon has set Magellan on Lapu-Lapu;
Bisayans from Panay would   help Legazpi take Maynilad;
Lakandula stood by while the chieftains of Hagonoy and Macabebe died fighting in Bangkusay channel;
Bisayans would fight Tagalogs;
Tagalos, Bikolanos, Pampangos, Ilokanos; one tribe against another, under Spanish command, for Spanish profit.
The Muslims of the Southern Islands would raid the Christian settlements up to the mouth of Manila Bay itself;
Bisayans under Spanish captains would march to Lake Lanao and Pampangos garrison Zamboanga;
the Muslims would fight for the Dutch against Christians fighting for the Spanish;
Lakandula fought for Salcedo against the Chinese;
his son Magat Salamat, plotted with the Japanese;
and Diego Silang offered his allegiance to the British.
His widow’s Tinggian lancers  were beaten by the Piddig archers.
Cebuanos put down Tamblot’s rebellion in Bohol and Bankaws in Leyte;
Lutaos surprised and defeated Sumuroy in Samar.

So it went throughout the centuries as one tribe after another took arms, against the missionary friars or for them, in protest against a wine tax or against forced labor on the Acapulco galleons in the name of the old gods or in the name of the new Spanish Constitution.
Malong proclaimed himself king of Pangasinan; Almazan king of the Ilocanos, and Apolinario de la Cruz, king of the Tagalogs.

No one proclaimed himself a Filipino.

Even at the time of our story del Pilar called his newspaper Diariong Tagalog and ended his denunciations of the monkish power with the patriotic cries of “Long live Spain! Long Live the Army! Down with the friars!” Rizal himself, writing to congratulate Lopez Jaena as later as 1889 exlaimed, “Sulung ang Bisaya at Tagalog!”  The eloquent Ilonggo, for his part informed Rizal with considerable satisfaction in 1891 that the Barcelona Republicans had offered him a choice of three constituencies in which they would support his candidacy to the Spanish Cortes. Indeed as we have seen, Rizal too had considered the same possibility; he did not aim so high as Pedro Alejandro Paterno who after the Pact of Biak na Bato claimed that he was acknowledged by the natives as the “Prince of Luzon” and wanted to be named also a Spanish duke, a grandee of Spain, and a senator.
Tagologs, Bisayans, Pampangos, Ilokanos, Bikolanos, were beginning to call themselves Filipinos, but they shared this name with any one of the Spanish, Chinese or mixed, blood born in the Philippines. “Philippines” was still largely a geographical expression and loyalty to the “Philippines” was the instinctive affection for the land of one’s birth, one’s “native land” rather than for a Nation.

It was Rizal as we have seen, who taught his countrymen that they could be something else, Filipinos who were members of a Filipino nation.

He was the first who sought to “unite the whole archipelago” and envisioned a “compact and homogenous” society of all the old tribal communities from Batanes to the Sulu Sea, based on common interests and “mutual protection” rather than on the Spanish friar’s theory of double allegiance to Spain as Catholic and the Church as Spanish…

Burgos, Gomez and Zamora, traditionally identified with the birth of Filipino nationalism, were but the precursors of this new community, the Filipino nation, and this should be obvious for the Philppine seculars.

They were priest from beginning to end, with purely priestly grievances and ambitions, and thus they moved by necessity in the wider reaches of the Universal Church. The intellectuals of that generation, who shared the fate of priests were equally untouched by the concept of the Filipino nation…
The Filipino nation was a narrower concept, more exclusive than the Universal Church and the Empire on which the sun had once upon a time never set; but for those who would call themselves by the new name of Filipinos, it was also a larger and more comprehensive community of all the tribes on all the islands of the archipelago, with duties and responsibilities that were more urgent and immediate.

But Rizal’s concept of a nation, as we should perhaps remind ourselves on occasion was moral, unselfish, responsible, based uncompromisingly on a general recognition of mutual rights and duties. “What is the use of independence if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?”  He never confused national independence with individual and social freedom.
Rizal is also the first Filipino because he is first in the hearts of the Filipinos. Nations are known by the heroes they have. If the people have the government they deserve, they also have heroes made of their own images and likeness.

—————————————————————————-At the end of the day, we are not Ilocanos nor Visayans. We are not Muslims nor Christians. We are not Kapampangans nor Tagalogs. WE ARE FILIPINOS.

God bless 🙂

Let me share with you guys a very interesting article from F. Sionil Jose.

In the Fifties and Sixties [the Philippines] was the most envied country in Southeast Asia. Remember when Indonesia got its independence in 1949 it had only 114 university graduates compared with the hundreds of Ph.D.’s that were already in our universities. Why then were we left behind? The economic explanation is simple. We did not produce cheaper and better products.

But this physical poverty is really not as serious as the greater poverty that afflicts us and this is the poverty of the spirit.

Why then are we poor? More than ten years ago, James Fallows, editor of the Atlantic Monthly, came to the Philippines and wrote about our damaged culture which, he asserted, impeded our development. Many disagreed with him but I do find a great deal of truth in his analysis.

This is not to say that I blame our social and moral malaise on colonialism alone. But we did inherit from Spain a social system and elite that, on purpose, exploited the masses. Then, too, in the Iberian peninsula, to work with one’s hands is frowned upon and we inherited that vice as well. Colonialism by foreigners may no longer be what it was, but we are now a colony of our own elite.

We are poor because we are poor — this is not a tautology. The culture of poverty is self-perpetuating. We are poor because our people are lazy. I pass by a slum area every morning – dozens of adults do nothing but idle, gossip and drink. We do not save.

We are great show-offs. Look at our women, how overdressed, over-coiffed they are, and Imelda epitomizes that extravagance. Look at our men, their manicured nails, their personal jewelry, their diamond rings. Yabang – that is what we are, and all that money expended on status symbols, on yabang….

We are poor because our nationalism is inward looking.

And finally, we are poor because we have lost our ethical moorings. We condone cronyism and corruption and we don’t ostracize or punish the crooks in our midst. Both cronyism and corruption are wasteful but we allow their practice because our loyalty is to family or friend, not to the larger good.

I am not looking for a foreign power for us to challenge. But we have a real and insidious enemy that we must vanquish, and this enemy is worse than the intransigence of any foreign power. WE ARE OUR OWN ENEMY. And we must have the courage, the will, to change ourselves.

Think about it, guys. Have a fruitful day!

Hey everyone! How’s eceryone doing?

Let me share with you a very interesting article from the late Barth Suretsky. In the light of the recent terribel showing of the Philippines in the 2008 and Beijing Olympics as well as all the things that have been happening around this country, this article is a strong voice of reason from an insider-outsider, so to speak. Feel free to leave your comments.

God bless!

Barth Suretsky was an American ex-pat who, after several visits in the Philippines since 1982 and immersing himself in the history and culture of the archipelago, decided to live permanently in the country in 1998 as he fell in love with the country. He died in 2001 and left a lamenting article about his thoughts on the root cause of the problems in our country.

I love this country, but not uncritically, and that is the purpose of this article.

The basic problem seems to me, after many years of observation, to be a national inferiority complex, a disturbing lack of pride in being Filipino.

Maybe it will sound simplistic, but…it is my unshakable belief that the fundamental thing wrong with this country is a lack of pride in being Filipino. A friend once remarked to me, laconically: “All Filipinos want to be something else. The poor ones want to be American, and the rich ones all want to be Spaniards. Nobody wants to be Filipino.” That statement would appear to be a rather simplistic one, and perhaps it is. However, I know one Filipino who refuses to enter a theater until the national anthem has stopped being played because he doesn’t want to honor his own country, and I know another one who thinks that history stopped dead in 1898 when the Spaniards departed! While it is certainly true that these represent extreme examples of national denial, the truth is not a pretty picture.

Filipinos tend to worship, almost slavishly, everything foreign. If it comes from Italy or France it has to be better than anything made here. If the idea is American or German it has to be superior to anything that Filipinos can think up for themselves. Foreigners are looked up to and idolized. Foreigners can go anywhere without question. In my own personal experience I remember attending recently an affair at a major museum here. I had forgotten to bring my invitation. But while Filipinos entering the museum were checked for invitations, I was simply waived through. This sort of thing happens so often here that it just accepted routine.

All of these things, the illogical respect given to foreigners simply because they are not Filipinos, the distrust and even disrespect shown to any homegrown merchandise, the neglect of anything Philippine, the rudeness of taxi drivers, the ill-manners shown by many Filipinos are all symptomatic of a lack of self-love, of respect for and love of the country in which they were born, and worst of all, a static mind-set in regard to finding ways to improve the situation. Most Filipinos, when confronted with evidence of governmental corruption, political chicanery, or gross exploitation on the part of the business community, simply shrug their shoulders, mutter “bahala na,” and let it go at that.

It is an oversimplification to say this, but it is not without a grain of truth to say that Filipinos feel downtrodden because they allow themselves to feel downtrodden. No pride.

However, the most shocking aspect of this lack of national pride, even identity, endemic in the average Filipino, is the appalling ignorance of the history of the archipelago since unified by Spain and named Filipinas. The remarkable stories concerning the Galleon de Manila, the courageous repulsion of Dutch and British invaders from the 16th through the 18th centuries, even the origins of the independence movement of the late 19th century, are hardly known by the average Filipino in any meaningful way. And thanks to fifty years of American brainwashing, it is few and far between the number of Filipinos who really know – or even care – about the duplicity employed by the Americans and Spaniards to sell out and make meaningless the very independent state that Aguinaldo declared on June 12, 1898. A people without a sense of history is a people doomed to be unaware of their own identity. It is sad to say, but true, that the vast majority of Filipinos fall into this lamentable category. Without a sense of who you are how can you possibly take any pride in who you are?

These are not oversimplifications. On the contrary, these are the root problems of the Philippine inferiority complex referred to above. Until the Filipino takes pride in being Filipino these ills of the soul will never be cured. If what I have written here can help, even in the smallest way, to make the Filipino aware of just who he is, who he was, and who he can be, I will be one happy expat indeed!

In 1542 to 1877, the word “Filipino” referred to a Spaniard living in the Philippines—the rest of the natives were called, “Indios.”

In 1878, Jose Rizal, for the first time, used the word Filipino to refer to the native population in the country.

In 1998, a Greek dictionary defined the word “Filipina”, as a domestic helper.

Today, “Filipinos” is the brand name for a series of biscuit snacks made by Kraft Foods in Europe.

In Boracay, a white man was heard calling a waitress, “Hey monkey, come here!” and the poor Filipina dutifully approached.

Sad but true, the perception of a Filipino today is a striking contrast during the time of Rizal when Filipinos in Europe were referred to as “the glory of the universities”.

F.Sionil Jose’s article “Why We Are Poor” looks back in the 50s and 60s when the Philippines was still the most envied country in Southeast Asia. Today, we are alongside Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, in terms of economic and social standing.

THE PHILIPPINES TODAY:

• 880,000 Filipinos leave the country every year in pursuit of more gainful employment abroad. They’re laying pipelines in Siberia, mining diamonds in Angola and sailing ships in all the world’s oceans. They clean thousands of homes a day from Hong Kong to Dubai to London; Bahrain’s prime minister employs some 50 Filipinos in his own household (Philippines: Workers for the World, Newsweek, Oct.4, 2006)

• The Philippines is currently the world’s leading exporter of nurses, with 164,000 or 85% of the country’s trained nurses are working abroad, with doctors becoming nurses [1]

• About 200 hospitals have recently closed down across the country because of a lack of doctors and nurses with another 800 hospitals considered to be “partially closed” due to the lack of qualified health personnel[1]

• Last 2006, the National Career Assessment Examination showed that out of the 1.3 million examinees, only 3.7%, or 49,066 students, are fit to enter college.[2]

• The Philippines is No. 41 in Science and No. 42 in Mathematics among 45 countries.[3]

•  “One of the defining characteristics of the Philippine middle class,” says a senior Western economist in Manila, “is that they all want to get out.” (Philippines: Workers for the World, Newsweek, Oct.4, 2006)

THE BROWN RACE:

As Barth Suretsky, an American expat who lived and died in the Philippines lamented, the fundamental thing wrong with this country is a lack of pride in being Filipino. “All Filipinos want to be something else. The poor ones want to be American, and the rich ones all want to be Spaniards. Nobody wants to be Filipino.” No pride, no identity, no recollection of his glorious past that can project him in leading the future of his country. “A people without a sense of history is a people doomed to be unaware of their own identity.”

Are the Filipino people such a weak race that we cannot find our place among the world’s nations?  (In the United States, Filipinos are described as “the invisible minority”)

Will the Filipino always be ashamed of his brown color, short height and snot-nose? 

Will the Filipino always look to a foreign country, a foreign husband, a foreign citizenship for hope and salvation?

 The words of Rizal, written in 1890, unfortunately, still reverberate…

“Alas!  The whole misfortune of the present Filipinos consists in that they have become only half-way brutes.  The Filipino is convinced that to get happiness it is necessary for him to lay aside his dignity as a rational creature, to attend mass, to believe what is told him…without aspiring anything…without protesting against any injustice…any insult… that is, not to have heart, brain, or spirit; a creature with arms and a purse of gold. . . there’s the ideal native!.” (The Indolence of the Filipinos by Jose Rizal, 1890)

RAISE THE BROWN RACE

The Brown Raise is a movement to CREATE A NEW PATH for the Filipino people—that his world need not always have to revolve around the shallowness of money, pleasure and survival, but that he is also capable of remarkable character, dignity, honor, visions for humanity and depths of nationhood.

The Brown Raise is a movement that seeks to unlock the secrets and strengths of a race and country which was once called, “the pearl of the orient seas”, and to discover and pursue the Philippines’ unique contribution to the hall of nations.

The 21st century Global Pinoy must have the spirit of the Brown Raise… the same spirit that Rizal, our national hero possessed from childhood.

“As a child I was educated among Spaniards; I was nourished on the great exemplars of the history of Spain, of Greece and Rome; afterwards in Spain my professors were all great thinkers, great patriots. Books, newspapers, [historical] examples, reason, all made me desire the good of my native land…I was so far from thinking that I was doing wrong that I have never wanted to accept the protection of another nation; twice I was offered German nationality, once the English, and I have never accepted.” – JOSE RIZAL

This is just so timely guys. For more info, please visit http://www.thebrownraise.org/ and help spread the word.